Woodworking For Therapy #12: SAFETY BEFORE THERAPY

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Blog entry by Steve Kreins posted 02-12-2014 02:38 PM 1248 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: No Saw Dust This Week, But.......... Part 12 of Woodworking For Therapy series Part 13: Cold Weather Has Some Challenges When Your Sick »

My Chemo Therapy has been rough, as anyone would understand that has been through it, but one side effect I wasn’t aware of is call ”Chemo Brain”. It’s like my thoughts are trying to push their way through mud. Since I want to encourage people with cancer and other disabilities to try Woodworking for Therapy, I thought a WARNING might be appropriate.

We all know that Woodworking can be dangerous and we take precautions to avoid workshop accidents. When you have a disability you need to factor that into your Safety Strategy.

I actually depend on my wife for safety accountability. I’ll let her know if I’m going to be using power tools and she can tell better than I when I am experiencing these times of sluggish thinking. She will either tell me to sit down and watch some Woodworking videos or work on plans for a future project. Since I have several projects going at once I might do one of the safer ones like finishing, sanding or glue ups.

Yesterday my Oncologist said my platelet count was very low. This means even a small cut can cause a serious bleeding problem. I’m not worried about it, but I am taking extra precautions for safety.

Sometimes my wife or daughter will join me in the shop and help me stay on track. I put a sign on my table saw that says, “Are you really up for this? Be carefully Dummy!”

You might be in a wheelchair or electric mobility device. Is your position in relation to the tools and work piece comfortable or do you have to over reach? Are there time during the day when you function better than others? Is there something else you could be doing? Are you trying to do something by yourself that really requires a second set of hands? Pride can get you hurt! These are all questions I have to ask myself every time I head to the shop.

My daughter Beth is a big help and we have fun working together.

Probably the most important things for me are: DON’T USE DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT WHEN NO ONE IS AT HOME TO HELP IF NEEDED.

Woodworking is GREAT Therapy, but do it safely!

Let me close this post with an update on what I’m working on. I am building a box for my daughter Beth for Valentines Day. I’ve never built a box, have little idea of what I’m doing, but learning from you LJs I figured I’d give it a try. It’s almost done, just going to put a coat of wax on it and it should be ready for the big day.

It’s taken me a week, you could do it in a few hours, but I’m having fun, not running a race. I love you guys and all the help you’ve given me. May God Bless you Richly!

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

10 comments so far

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2913 days

#1 posted 02-12-2014 03:03 PM

Be careful out there. I count on seeing your blogs and that $1000 you owe me.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3261 days

#2 posted 02-12-2014 03:30 PM

That is excellent advice, no matter your limitations, keep them in mind and work around them the best you can for yours, and everyone else’s safety.

I might recommend a coffee cup with a closeable lid in the shop. That is unless you like sawdust flavored coffee… If you do I can suggest several brands to try…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View WoodGuyScott's profile


51 posts in 1692 days

#3 posted 02-12-2014 04:49 PM


There’s not a thing wrong with working at your own pace. Great on you for not being discouraged with the time it takes to get things done. Many of us are hobbyists, and that means we do what we do for the joy of it, not to do churn out finished projects. To paraphrase a Steven Curtis Chapman song, “Do everything you do for the Glory of the One who made you.”

-- --Shafe

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3261 days

#4 posted 02-12-2014 05:59 PM


I know it’s hardly a fair comparison, but I have some familiarity with muddy thinking in the shop. I am not sure if the chemo thing is the same as what I went through with Apnea… But…

When my head is too muddy to want to handle machines with teeth, I would do like you said, dry fittment, or glue ups, or hand sanding. I like listening to podcasts in the shop when I can… Some of my personal favorites are Larger Than Life which is the podcasst of the radio show our pastor does, Love Worth Finding with the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, and from a non faith oriented podcast, I listen to Wood Talk on the Wood Whisperer website and I also play a lot of internet radio on Slacker. My favorite music station is the Prog Rock station (I was a teenager in the 80s…).

Cleanup is a good thing to do when brain foggy too, although it could lead to forgetting where you put, oh say that compressed air blowgun you have been looking for! (Look back at my earlier blog posts about that subject… Ugh.).

And if you are any good with pen and paper, or Sketchup, then project design, at least sketching out ideas is always a good stress reliever for me!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1649 days

#5 posted 02-12-2014 09:06 PM

All true. Every time I try to work when I’m tired or distracted, I screw something up or wind up doing something I otherwise wouldn’t have done if thinking straight. If your mind isn’t able to focus on the task at hand, change tasks! The box turned out GREAT! What a first effort!

My advice is completely un-cancer/woodworking related: Watch your Stetson. Some sawdust stains and is so fine you can’t get it out. I lost a beautiful George Strait that way when working last summer outside on some mahogany rails and benches for a deck. I was using sapele and the dust thrown off by my router and ROS was fine enough to stick to my lid and I never got it out. I loved that dang hat. Fit so good.

You’re in my prayers every day brother. Keep the faith! And keep the projects coming!

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3131 days

#6 posted 02-12-2014 11:50 PM

I suppose every situation is different.

When I was going thru chemo therapy I could not have ever imagined doing woodworking for a minute. I could barely get from the couch to the bathroom to the doctors office. The “chemo brain” can be alive and well during most treatments. As with you, without my wife along side I would have done much worse.

Great your able to do something to somewhat take your mind off one of the worst ordeals a person can go thru. Keep posting those projects (at your own pace)....................

-- mike...............

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2719 days

#7 posted 02-13-2014 02:20 AM

Steve, Good advice and glad to see you got the box almost finished. That not doing dangerous stuff when no one else is home is good advice. I was riding a colt that fell with me and when my wife got home and asked what the Hell happened, I had no idea as I had been ‘out’ for a while.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Picken5's profile


255 posts in 2721 days

#8 posted 02-13-2014 03:24 AM

Steve — great advice. While I have no experience with “Chemo Brain”, I’m sure plenty of us (including me) have had times of muddy thinking. Your cautions are wise and we should all heed them.

By the way, your box for Beth looks great!

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 1660 days

#9 posted 02-13-2014 05:54 AM

Very nice looking box. Yeah, muddy thinking is a pain for all of us at some point, probably not comparable to your chemo brain, but still. It took me a trip to the ER to keep me in check. Currently whenever I feel that I am not at a 100% I just quit for the day, or do some sanding and glue ups just as you said.

My projects are slower but I still got all of my body parts with me and I think for all of us keeping our digits is more important than a lonerg project.

Best of luck with your chemo and keep strong!

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2104 days

#10 posted 02-17-2014 12:42 AM


After stumbling over this blog this morning, I’ve read all of your entries, and my hat goes off to you.
I love your sense of humour, and candid comments. You are right that this place is a blessing.

I chuckled when you mentioned going out into the garage to watch glue dry in one of your blog entries. Been there, done that.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

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